Can Cuba Rejuvenate Her Coffee Fields?

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#1: Post by Boldjava »

"Cuba's coffee industry is on shakey ground. In 1960, Cuba produced more than 60,000 tons of coffee. In 2021, that figure dropped to just 11,500 tons. It's hoped that "specialty" coffees, which remain a novelty on the island, could breath life back into a flagging industry..." From a brief film clip on Barrons -- describing the decline of a once thriving agri-economic basis w/sugarcane. ... 1669309828

Some years ago, I had some coffee from the island of Cuba. A friend, who will remain nameless, shipped me some greens from Canada, labeling them DR beans. Was I impressed? No. Gave it an 82. Can I make a sweeping conclusion about Cuban coffee based on that? Heavens, no.

The best coffee comes from the Sierra Maestra region, where our cigar smoking friend hid and staged the beginnings of the revolution. The Sierra Maestra region grows her coffee at 3,000 feet, hardly high grown. But as island growers in Hawaii say, water currents impact growing conditions and 6000 feet isn't necessary. Who knows?

A couple of other articles on Cuban coffee worth reading: ... p-to-cuba/ ... a-part-ii/
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#2: Post by baldheadracing »

FWIW, in Canada:

First, all Cuban coffee exports are is controlled by the same company that exports Cuban cigars. That company generally imports coffee once or twice a year from Cuba to Canada. I used to buy when the shipments arrived, but that was back when I also bought boxes of cigars as they arrived in Canada. (Am I the only person here with humidors full of vintage Cuban cigars?)

"Cubita" (black bags) is the standard Cuban coffee, like Lavazza is a standard Italian coffee. Available literally anywhere and everywhere in Canada, from corner stores to supermarkets. Roasted dark in Cuba. Makes a nice low-acidity espresso, albeit a bit boring for my tastes. Price is good (a bit lower than Lavazza), but you have no idea how old the coffee is.

"Turquino" (blue bags) is a step up. Roasted dark in Cuba. Huge price jump, typically only sold by cigar stores.

"Serrano" (red bags) is bestest. Roasted dark in Cuba. A small price increase from Turquino, again typically only sold by cigar stores.

There was some effort to market specialty-grade coffee using the same names as cigars like Cohiba, Montecristo, etc., but I don't think that they do that anymore.

In addition, green coffee is imported into Canada. Greens are usually in 15kg bags, and I've only seen and roasted Serrano - it was available in three grades + peaberry IIRC. The low price of Cuban greens makes them a good substitute for more expensive island coffees like Jamaicans. OTOH, once USA Customs finds out that a Canadian roaster is using Cuban coffee, then everything that roaster sells may be delayed at the border. Pre-pandemic, I know of one roaster that went out-of-business once USA Customs stopped allowing all - all - of her coffee to enter the USA.

Regardless, I wouldn't go out of my way to get Cuban coffee. The quality and quantity started to drop in the 1990's when the Soviet Union broke up and there was no more inexpensive subsidized Soviet fertilizer for Cuba.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada